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Online betting and gaming: another “exception française”?


14 Oct 2009



Brussels, 13 October 2009

The French National Assembly voted today in first reading its draft on online gaming and betting. After voicing its concerns (see link) on the viability of the French draft, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) notes that today’s vote worsens the conditions of the market opening. The draft now goes to the Senate for discussion.

Several amendments reinforce restrictions against potential new EU entrants and will consolidate further the position of the current duopoly operators Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) and Francaise des Jeux (FDJ). This confirms the real intention of the French government to fight, as stated by French budget Minister Woerth, in favour of a “French specificity”.

According to Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of the EGBA, “At the time when Europe is watching the development of France’s reform, the introduction of even more unjustified restrictions is threatening to corrupt the efficient workings of the market. If the Senate votes along these lines, the prospect of a French market that is both viable and compliant with EU law is a long-way off.”

Some of the new restrictions passed today include:

The resetting of customer accounts: New entrants will be forced to close down the .com accounts of their French customers until they are granted a license. This is clear a distortion of competition as FDJ and PMU will be able to continue offering their services without interruption.
Discrimination against operators in other EU jurisdictions: New entrants from other EU jurisdictions may see their application for a license turned down even if they have reciprocal EU tax reporting arrangements with France.
Further limitation of pay back ratio: Further limits of the average pay back ratio to customers (which includes the sums of the bets (i.e. bonuses) and not the stakes) will make French consumers spend more to get a better return on their bets. This additional obstacle will only serve the purpose of limiting the level of competition by making it less attractive to new market entrants and restricting consumer choice.

These new concerns come on top of existing restrictions that have already been flagged earlier such as the introduction of a “sports betting right” and the requirement to force EU operators to establish an IT platform in France. They come at a time when the overall taxation model proposed risks rendering the French offer uncompetitive in a global market, and drive away consumer demand towards an underground market with no consumer protection.

A number of implementing decrees will follow in the months to come to specify some of the requirements of the draft law. “It is crucial that also these implementing decrees are scrutinized by the European Commission and Member States to ensure EC law compliance. We urge the French government to notify all implementing decrees as soon as possible.” added Sigrid Ligné.

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For further information or comment please contact:

Sigrid Ligné: +32 (0) 2 2567527

About EGBA:

The EGBA is an association of the leading European online gaming and betting operators, bwin, Digibet, Expekt, Interwetten, PartyGaming and Unibet. EGBA is a Brussels-based non-profit association. It promotes the right of private gaming and betting operators that are regulated and licensed in one Member State to a fair market access throughout the European Union. Online gaming and betting is a fast growing market, but will remain for the next decades a limited part of the overall European gaming market in which the traditional land based offer is expected to grow from € 78,5 Billion GGR in 2008 to € 82 Billion GGR in 2012, thus keeping the lion’s share with 88,1% of the market. Source: H2 Gambling Capital, January 2009.


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